Thursday 4 July 2013

Doctor Who Marathon 1: Colin Baker

The Colin Baker era is not well-loved, in fact it is remembered chiefly for its flaws and disasters. The full catalogue could take up half a dozen posts so let's just deal with the edited highlights:

The era opens with a serial twice voted the worst Doctor Who story ever made; picks up nine months later with a piece of continuity porn so bad it drove off a quarter of the audience; lurches through a season composed mainly of excessive violence and more excessive sequels; the show is then put on hiatus for eighteen months; returns with an epic season-long storyline that falls apart when the man writing the finale dies without having submitted a first draft or even storyline notes to the script editor; and then the BBC fires Colin Baker.

The Sylvester McCoy version of the show never recovers from the mortal wounds of the Colin Baker era and cancellation becomes inevitable. The Sixth Doctor becomes a byword amongst fans for the worst aspects of the series from production values to production personnel.

Blame for his mess is impossible to apply to any single figure because everyone involved has their own account, usually in total contradiction of everyone else. Unfinished masterplans are invoked but never explained, leading one to believe they were never actually seriously considered. Even the authorship of the aforementioned continuity porn shipwreck is contested by two people seemingly intent on incriminating themselves rather than blaming each other.

I've always rather liked the Sixth Doctor but it took a long time for the larger fan consensus to catch up with me on that one. It's easy to be a Colin Baker fan now: we've got Big Finish now, who have given us Jubilee, The Doomwood Curse, Medicinal Purposes and dozens of other great stories proving that Colin Baker can act and that his version of the Doctor can work.

But what was it I liked as a kid? Was it just the bright colours (I do like the coat, I won't lie)? The shouting? The classic monsters? Peri's unbelievably exploitative wardrobe?

Time for a marathon, methinks. Twelve stories (including Slipback and counting The Trial Of A Time Lord as four stories) doesn't seem too long. I've always wanted to do one of those epic watch throughs from An Earthly Child to present but I don't have the attention span so let's just do this Doctor by Doctor and start with the series' most-maligned era. If nothing else, after this things can only improve.

NEXT EPISODE: The Twin Dilemma: democratically the worst Doctor Who story ever.

No comments: